§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Arthur Palmer) addressed to me yesterday a complaint of privilege relating to the text of an article published in the Observer on 26th May, 1968, pages 1 and 2, under the signatures of Laurence Marks and Joanna Slaughter, relating to biological warfare.
In my view, the hon. Gentleman's complaint does raise a matter of Privilege conferring on it precedence over the Orders of the Day.
The practice of the House now requires a Motion to be moved either by the Leader of the House or by the hon. Member who made the complaint and that Motion, of course, is debatable.
§ The Lord Privy Seal and the Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Fred Peart)
In view of your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, it falls to me, as Leader of the House, in accordance with past practice, to move,That the matter of the complaint be referred to the Committee of Privileges.It would, I think, be in the interests of the whole House if this were now decided with no further debate at this stage.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire) rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member has been in the House long enough to know that before the Motion can be debated it must be put to the House.
The Question is,That the matter of the complain be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes rose—
§ Hon. Members: Oh, no.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Frequently, when hon. Members challenge any decision of the House—and often important decisions —we are greeted with cries of "Sit down!", "Shut up!", and so on, but we should have more information from the Leader of the House before we submit to the Committee of Privileges something which may be regarded as an attack on the liberties of the Press. The liberties of the Press are very important and I would like from my right hon. Friend more than the bare explanation which we have heard so far.
The argument is that this was in some way a leak from the Select Committee on Science and Technology, and that because it was a leak on the subject of biological warfare the matter should be referred to the Committee of Privileges. But the Sunday Press is full of leaks of all kinds. Why do we single out this particular one? Leaks are customary from the meetings of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Will this case be a precedent? Will the Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party suggest now that an article in the Sunday Express, the Observer, or the Sunday Times also constitutes a breach of privilege? Without any explanation, the House is to remit this to the Committee of Privileges, and this is a very dangerous thing.
I read the article in the Observer on Sunday and I thought that it was very good and should be read by every responsible citizen. It was headed, "Biological warfare: Dons named ". I am not interested in the naming of the dons, but I am interested, as we should all be interested, in biological warfare. Having re-read the article, I see no reason, unless I can be convinced otherwise, that this 1543 is a special article which should be considered by the Committee of Privileges.
It may be argued that it deals with confidential information, but, if so, it is open for the Observer to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and to defend itself in the courts. But here we have a point to consider—
§ Hon. Members: Get on with it.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I am making my speech as short as possible, but I think that a vital issue is at stake. We are entitled to the fullest possible information about bacteriological warfare and this article discloses nothing which would be of any use to a foreign Power. In fact, most of the information has already been made available in American technical journals which have dealt very fully with this matter. There is a quarterly magazine published by the American Defence Department and I have seen it displayed in Peking.
There is no reason, from the point of view of this country's defence, for this matter to be "hush-hushed" and shoved away to the Committee of Privileges— [HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] I am accustomed to taking unpopular stands. That is what I am here for—.
§ Hon. Members: Do not take so long about it.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I am making my case as simple as possible.
I see no reason why the House, with no further information or explanation, should say that this matter should go to the Committee of Privileges before any other Press article. I insist that the question whether we are preparing, by biological warfare, to wipe out this country and the whole human race is a matter for public discussion. If the Leader of the House says that it is not, and can produce any reason why it is not, I will listen respectfully, but I suggest that we should have a further explanation before agreeing to the Motion.
§ Mr. Arthur Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is mistaken about the purpose of the House referring a matter to the Committee of Privileges. He suggests that the House should carry out this investigation itself, now. You have ruled, Mr. Speaker, that there is a prima facie case to be examined and the House has set up this Select Committee to find out the facts. Until those facts are discovered, it seems that the House will be wasting its time in carrying out a full investigation now.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Croydon, South)
It is because I have reservations in my mind about the procedure we are adopting that I am seeking to detain the House. I certainly agree with the earlier remarks of the hon. Gentleman, but I want to look at this matter in a somewhat different light. I hope that the House will appreciate that it is only because I have strong reservations that I am taking up the time of the whole House; otherwise, I would not do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Some hon. Members disagree, but in raising this matter today, the House is basing itself to a large extent on a Resolution passed on 21st April, 1837.
I have looked at that Resolution—it was some time ago, as the House will appreciate—and it appears that it stated that evidence taken by a Select Committee of the House and documents presented to such a Committee which have not been reported to the House ought not to be published by any members of such Committees, or any other person.
It may well be that hon. Members will say the Resolution is one which should continue in practice, but I do not believe so; and it is because I do not believe so that I have certain objections and reservations with regard to the procedure we are now following. If this matter is to go to the Committee of Privileges that Committee should be asked by the House to look again at the Resolution passed in 1837. I believe that in a free society the Press has a duty to probe, to investigate, all our workings, and should not necessarily be asked to limit itself to official reports. What we seem to be saying is that a Select Committee took evidence which was later published in the Observer, but because it was not officially published 1545 by the Committee the Press had no right to publish that information. I disagree.
We have had controversy before on whether or not party meetings should be privileged, and over a period of time we have tended to change our minds. Though technically, and perhaps in theory, party meetings upstairs are protected by parliamentary privilege, in practice that does not appear to be the case any longer. I would hope that even if we are to agree to the Motion moved by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House we will recognise that there are drawbacks in continuing with a Resolution passed so
§ many years ago. I would rather this matter was debated on the Floor of the House and not sent to the Committee, but, obviously, the House thinks otherwise.
§ If this matter is to go to the Committee then I would plead with the Committee to look again at the Resolution passed in 1837, and consider whether there is not a strong case for its being rescinded.
§ Question put, That the matter of the Complaint be referred to the Committee of Privileges:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 398, Noes 14.1547
|Division No. 182.]||AYES||[3.54 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Chapman, Donald||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Albu, Austen||Chichester-Clark, R.||Ford, Ben|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Clegg, Walter||Fortescue, Tim|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Coe, Denis||Foster, Sir John|
|Alldritt, Walter||Coleman, Donald||Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone)|
|Archer, Peter||Concannon, J. D.||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Conlan, Bernard||Garrett, W. E.|
|Astor, John||Cooke, Robert||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Costain, A. P.||Ginsburg, David|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Glyn, Sir Richard|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Crawshaw, Richard||Goodhart, Philip|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Cower, Raymond|
|Barnett, Joel||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver||Grant, Anthony|
|Baxter, William||Crouch, David||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Crowder, F. P.||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)|
|Beaney, Alan||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Gregory, Arnold|
|Bell, Ronald||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Bence, Cyril||Currie, G. B. H.||Grey, Charles (Durham)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Datkeith, Earl of||Grieve, Percy|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Dalyell, Tam||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Dance, James||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Bessell, Peter||Davidson,James(Aberdeenshire,W.)||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (LlanelIy)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Binns, John||Davies, G. Eifed (Rhondda, E.)||Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Bishop, E. S.||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Gurden, Harold|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Btaker, Peter||Davies, S. o. (Merthyr)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Dean Paul (somert, N.)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Hamling, William|
|Body, Richard||Delargy, Hugh||Harper, Joseph|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Dell, Edmund||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Dempsey, James||Harrison, Brian (MaWon)|
|Boyden, James||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Harrison, Col. 8ir Harwood (Eye)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Dickens, James||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere|
|Bradley, Tom||Dobson, Ray||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Braine, Bernard||Doig, Peter||Haseldine, Norman|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Doughty, Charles||Hattersley, Roy|
|Brewis, John||Drayson, G. B.||Hazell, Bert|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Driberg, Tom||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis|
|Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter||Dunnett, Jack||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Brooks, Edwin||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Henig, Stanley|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. Ceorge (Belper)||Eadie, Alex||Heseltine, Michael|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Eden, Sir John||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon.Tyne,W.)||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Hiley, Joseph|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Elliott, R.W. (N'c'tte-upon-Tyne,N.)||Hill, J. E. B.'|
|Bryan, Paul||Ellis, John||Hilton, W. S.|
|Buchan, Norman||English, Michael||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)|
|Buchanan-Smith,Alick(Angus,N&M)||Errington, Sir Eric||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quint n|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Holland, Philip|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Farr, John||Hordern, Peter|
|Burden, F. A.||Ferayhough, E.||Hornby, Richard|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Fisher, Nigel||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Campbell, Gortlon||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Foley, Maurice||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Hoy, James|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Mayhew, Christopher||Scott, Nicholas|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Mendelson, J. J.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Millan, Bruce||Sharpies, Richard|
|Hunt, John||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Hunter, Adam||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Hynd, John||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Silvester, Frederick|
|Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Monro, Hector||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Montgomery, Fergus||Skeffington Arthur|
|Jay, Rt. Hn, Douglas||Moonman, Eric||Slater, Joseph|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||More, Jasper||Small, William|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Smith Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Smith John (London & W'minster)|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Snow, Julian|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Stainton, Keith|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Moyle, Roland||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stodart Anthony|
|Judd, Frank||Murton, Oscar||Stoddart- Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Neave, Airey||Stonehouse John|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Swain, Thomas|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby,S.)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Nott, John||Swingler, Stephen|
|Kimball, Marcus||Oakes, Gordon||Symonds, J. B.|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Ogden, Eric||Tapsell, Peter|
|Kirk Peter||O'Malley, Brian||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Kitson, Timothy||Onslow, Cranley||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Oram, Albert E.||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Lane David||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Temple, John M.|
|Lawson, George||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Oswald, Thomas||Thornton, Ernest|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Tinn, James|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Lipton, Marcus||Palmer, Arthur||Varley, Eric G.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dffield)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pavitt, Laurence||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Luard, Evan||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Wall, Patrick|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Peel, John||Wallace, George|
|McCann, John||Pentland, Norman||Walters, Dennis|
|MacColl, James||Peyton, John||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|MacDermot, Niall||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Macdonald, A. H.||Pink, R. Bonner||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)||Pounder, Rafton||Webster, David|
|Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Mackie, John||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Whitlock, William|
|Maclennan, Robert||Prior, J. M. L.||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain||Probert, Arthur||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|McMaster, Stanley||Pym, Francis||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Randall, Harry||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Rees, Merlyn||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|MacPherson, Malcolm||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Maddan, Martin||Reynolds, G. W.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maginnis, John E.||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Richard, Ivor||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Ridsdale, Julian||Woof, Robert|
|Mapp, Charles||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wright, Esmond|
|Marks, Kenneth||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth(St.P'c'as)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walthamstow, E.)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Yates, Victor|
|Marten, Neil||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Younger, Hn. George|
|Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Mawby, Ray||Royle, Anthony||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Russell, Sir Ronald||Mr. Alan Fitch and Mr. Neil McBride.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Booth, Albert||Lee, John (Reading)||Winnick, David|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Newens, Stan|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Park, Trevor||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ewing, Mrs. Winifred||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Mrs. Anne Kerr and Mr. Hugh Jenkins.|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Rose, Paul|